MWC: new devices: Samsung SGH-i780, HP iPAQ 21x, MDA Compact IV, Toshi G910, HTC Shift etc.

After my thorough and, for example, PPCT frontpaged elaboration on the current i-mate lineup, let me speak about my experiences with the new, highly anticipated models either announced or showcased at MWC (or just recently released): the Samsung SGH-i780, the HP iPAQ 21x, the new Toshiba models, the E-Ten V900, The Gigabyte MS808 etc. (And, I’ll quickly mention the T-Mobile-only (!), high-end, VGA MDA Compact IV too.)

Samsung SGH-i780

First, I REALLY recommend Mobile-Review’s two-part review of this VERY nice device. In here, I generally don’t repeat what has already been explained there (except for a quick summary); I only elaborate on what I don’t agree with in the review and deem it necessary to add.

This is a pretty promising and high-spec’ed, still, very light (120g – somewhat more than the 112g, original [and, capability-wise, much-much inferior] HTC Touch, the same as the Nokia N95 and the T-Mobile MDA Touch Plus (HTC Nike 200); somewhat less than the HTC Touch Cruise P3650 (HTC Polaris 100) and MUCH less than the Kaiser) Pocket PC with a BlackBerry-alike thumbboard, a square 320*320 (yes, you've read it right: NOT those awful, incompatible-with-most-titles 240*240 screens!) screen, the latest-and-(almost the) greatest Marvel Xscale PXA310 CPU (as opposed to the old Intel Xscale PXA270 series still used in most current and forthcoming, Xscale-based devices – see for example the i-mate 6150 / 8150) and an optical touchpad (as opposed to traditional D-pads).


(From top left to right: the HTC Universal (i-mate JasJar), HTC s310 / Oxygen (SPV C100), the SGH-i780 (from bottom left to right): T-Mobile Shadow (HTC Kii 100), Samsung SGH-i640, BlackBerry 8800 and Nokia N95)


(From left to right: the HTC Universal (i-mate JasJar) with an extended battery, HTC s310 / Oxygen (SPV C100), T-Mobile Shadow, Samsung SGH-i640, BlackBerry 8800, Nokia N95 and the the SGH-i780)


(The same as before at the bottom; on the top, the new Benq, the HP iPAQ 610 (more on it later) and the HTC s730)

I've played a lot with the latter (the touchpad) at Barcelona and, frankly, didn’t quite like it. Of course, I need to admit I’ve already been spoiled by the touchpad of the HP iPAQ hx4700, which I hated. Frankly, I’ve found the “optical touchpad†of the Samsung a bit worse:

  1. it’s definitely smaller than that of the iPAQ. It should have been made much bigger, even on the expense of the neighboring, huge buttons.
  2. I’ve found it harder to operate. With the hx4700, you can both just touch the touchpad and press it hard: both will work. With the Samsung, only light touching works.

The fact that, unlike with the iPAQ, it can be pressed down (“Actionâ€), is a plus, however, when compared to the hx4700.

All in all, if I REALLY need to use something being able to position quicker, I would still prefer to see something like the trackball in recent BlackBerry models (everything newer than the 8700). It has its own problems (for example, it needs to be cleaned now and then – fortunately, it’s comparatively easy on the BlackBerry), but is a FAR faster, FAR more precise and FAR more gaming / e-book reading-friendly pointing method than such a small touchpad. I know this as I’m also a BlackBerry 8800 user (as has also been mentioned HERE). Windows Mobile manufacturers, are you listening? It’s better to forget this touchpad thing altogether (again, remember the hx4700’s fate!) and use trackballs instead.

I didn’t have the chance to run third-party, non-320*320-aware native (NON-Java MIDlet) games on the handset. The Mobile-Review state most third-party games have major flaws, which is what I expected, based on the WVGA Toshiba G900 game compatibility reports in the dedicated XDA-Devs thread (see for example THIS, THIS and, most importantly, THIS). I think, on the other hand, Java MIDlet-based games capable of auto-resizing themselves (there’re several of them; see my MIDlet Bible) will run without problems. Of course, controlling them will be another issue – as long as the numeric buttons don’t work on the keyboard (haven’t tested this myself), don’t expect miracles as the optical joystick is just not suited for gaming. Just like on the hx4700, of course.

Note that, as is also reported in THIS XDA-Devs thread, there may be other issues as well – not only with games or full-screen apps.

Other, related threads of interest:
HoFo
MoDaCo
PPCT – in this thread, I mostly elaborate on my opinions on the touchpad.

GPS

Unfortunately, being situated in a hotel, I couldn’t test the GPS performance. It’s based on the Qualcomm MSM6260 gpsOne chipset, which is, according to for example THIS article, is somewhat newer than the MSM6275 gpsOne chipset used in, for example, the HTC Trinity / P3600. Still, I’m not entirely sure it has comparable sensitivity to the (newer) Qualcomm MSM7200/7500 gpsOne GPS used in, say, the HTC Kaiser / AT&T Tilt, which, in turn, is still a bit weaker than the currently best consumer chipset, the SiRFstar III. The Mobile-Review article states they haven’t really been able to make it work and/or had very long wake-up times – which is pretty much similar to the not very good GPS real-world performance of the Trinity. Other folks, on the other hand, have reported success with Google Maps / iGo / TomTom 6.030 in different user forums.

Battery life

The device, as with most other Samsung models, comes with a spare battery; based on this, the specs, Samsungs’ past battery life and the 1000 (that is, very-very weak – yes, you have to pay for the device’s only weighing 120 grams, while still having excellent specs) mAh battery, you will most probably have pretty bad battery life – I haven’t managed to test this myself either. Also see for example THIS for more info on this.

There’re some additional videos HERE.

Toshiba


(the G910 compared to a HTC Universal)

(a close-up of the hinge – as can be seen, there’s no way of rotating the screen)

(from the left)

(the top with the monochrome screen and the controls outside)

Frankly, I expected FAR more from Toshiba, the manufacturer that, back in Autumn 2003, brought us the e800, which was practically unrivalled for almost one year: the first VGA device out there. After the e800’s pioneering into the VGA world a year before its competition, Toshiba seems to have lost its momentum: now, they just seem to be unable to come up with something really cool, really revolutionary.

The phone that most geeks have been waiting for was the G910/ G920 – the successor to the pretty much lackluster Toshi G900. Let’s see how it fares!

The first thing you notice with the device when you open the screen is that it only occupies little of the available estate – the rest of the upper plate (also housing the screen) is simply not used, unlike on, say, the predecessor (G900) or Sony-Ericsson’s X1 – two “simple†sliders (not clamshell models). This is pretty easy to explain: after all, this device is solely a clamshell device and you can in no way rotate the screen in the same way as on a HTC Universal or the VGA clamshell Sharp Zaurus models. This is why they didn’t put any buttons / the D-pad on the upper plate.

The results aren’t so bad as with the pretty much ridiculous-looking (see THIS for more user opinions on this question) Asus M930(W) (a.k.a. P930):

but is still FAR from being perfect.

Microsoft and/or OEM’s / ODM’s should forget sticking to the (W)VGA (or, as far as the Asus M930W is concerned, WQVGA; that is, 400*240) resolution in their strictly clamshell devices – again, on devices where you can’t put additional controls like the D-pad next to the screen. Do what Nokia did with the E90: with VGA devices, decrease the vertical resolution and, at the same time, make the screen much wider. You can even consider bringing back the “old†640*240 screen used in Handheld PC’s – it wasn’t particularly bad at all. Of course, while we’re at it, you could make it, say, 800*320 (so that the device becomes compatible with ALL QVGA Portrait-only programs; that is, mostly games) or, as with Nokia’s E90, 800 x 352. The slight loss on the vertical resolution would certainly pay off with the much increased screen estate.

A different approach would be just not using the 1:1 pixel aspect ratio any more in clamshell-only, not rotateable models. That is, use wider pixels in your screens so that the resolution remains the same W(Q)VGA, but, with wider pixels, you'll be able to fill in the entire plate estate. Few users will be upset if you do so.

As THIS excellent MoDaCo podcast put it: if Windows Mobile clamshell device manufacturers aren’t able to fix these problems, the Average Joe’s will simply go for another model: either a slider (where the entire available surface is used up by additional UI components like buttons and D-pads) or the Nokia E90, which, thanks to the uneven, not strictly WVGA screen resolution (800 x 352), uses almost the entire upper plate:

Note that the Toshiba folks have also showcased two of their other models, the G710 (a very simple [no Wi-Fi, 128M ROM and TI OMAP 1030 clocked at 260 MHz only etc.] touchscreen-less Smartphone with a front thumbboard; nothing to write home about) and the G810 (a QVGA Pocket PC with pretty decent specs – for example, it has 128M RAM and, as opposed to all currently available (!) Qualcomm models, its Qualcomm chipset runs at 520 MHz). In the following shot, you can see both of them – along with the iPAQ 614 with a unique wheel design (and the outdated Intel Xscale PXA270 & unavailability in the U.S.)

HP

Still speaking of the HP iPAQ 61x (see the previous section), let me present you two close-ups:


As can clearly be seen, the MIDlet manager running on these devices has been written by Sun Microsystems. NOT Esmertec, NOT Aplix, not (the no more existing) TAO, no NSIcom (see CrEme) – but Sun themselves. While I didn’t get any definite answer on whether Sun plans to (re)enter the Windows Mobile platform, this is certainly a good sign. As long as it has been indeed developed my Sun, and not just a “let it have a Sun logo and Copyright and that’s all†step.

Of HP’s new devices, it’s, of course, their latest high-end model, the iPAQ 210 (a.k.a. 211, 212, 213 and 214, depending on your location; otherwise, the devices are identical, except for some localization, if at all) that interested me the most. After all, its predecessor, the HP iPAQ hx4700, despite its problems (flash writing issues even with the latest, unofficial, “cooked†ROM’s; lack of SDHC support [even with the latest, “cooked†Kozhura ROM’s]; the, at least for gaming / book reading, awful touchpad, the weak speaker etc) still a very decent device.


(HP’s booth)

(on HP’s booth, probably the F1 simulator was the most popular – people lined up to play it)

Firs, make sure you check out Brighthand’s review HERE. You might also want to look around in the dedicated forums HERE (BH), HERE (PPCT) and HERE (Mobility/AximSite).

I had the chance to play a bit with the new HP 214 and, to tell the truth, was a bit disappointed. It seems to be worse than its predecessor in the following ways:

  1. it doesn't have the same screen than the hx4700 (this has also been confirmed by the HP rep there). I didn’t have the chance to directly compare its color reproduction to that of the hx4700. (You might remember that the hx4700, along with similar models that had screens manufactured with the same technology but at slightly different sizes – that is, the Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket Loox VGA devices [for example, the 718/720] and the HTC Universal) However, it has definitely worse viewing angle – when not viewed exactly from 90%, the colors become much paler than with the hx4700. I’d also say the colors themselves are less vibrant than on the hx4700, but this is still not confirmed – unless some people post some comparative pictures to THIS thread.

    HP 210 users / reviews also report that operating the touchscreen requires a bit more strength than with other touchscreen devices. If you do apply a screen protector, the situation may become even worse.

    Fortunately, at least it seems not to have problems with the landscape polarization (unlike with the x50v / x51v). In this regard, it’s way better than the Dell. (Too bad it doesn’t have the 2700G or, for that matter, any kind of a 3D hardware acceleration.)

  2. it feels really cheap (pasticy) in the hand - FAR worse than the magnesium-cased, really-really nice hx4700.
  3. it's considerably thicker 2.5 mm’s (0.1 inch) (77 x 131 x 14.9 millimetres vs. 75.4 x 133.8 x 17.4 millimetres) and, despite the plastic housing (as opposed to the magnesium housing of the hx4700), heavier (186.7 vs. 192).
  4. there’s no infrared support
  5. it doesn’t have the Credent security software suite, unlike its predecessor (should you ever need it)
  6. its speaker isn’t loud at all (which has both been mentioned in the BrightHand review and HERE) – actually, it’s even weaker than that of the hx4700.

All in all, it was a bit of a disappointment for me. I hoped for something that is considerably better than the hx4700 not only internally, but also externally (and have a screen of at least the same quality & contrast & color reproduction). I think I’ll stick with the hx4700 and wait for something better than the 210. Sorry guys.

Some other, related threads:

You can use the hx4700 battery with the 210

PDAdb.net’s one-by-one spec chart with the hx4700.

Other direct comparison threads:
AximSite
BH

Yes, you must surely have noticed I couldn’t like 100% any of the above-introduced devices. Yes, I know, I’m very hard to please and pretty much critical – but, if one speaks about his or her hard-earned dollars, criticism is OK. I really hope the Sony-Ericsson XPERIA X1 indeed turns out to be better than any of them – or, one of the following high-end, VGA devices also recently announced (with the MDA Compact IV, right at MWC): the MDA Compact IV, the E-Ten V900, MSM808:

MDA Compact IV

The MDA Compact IV, which is a custom device for T-Mobile sporting a 2.8†VGA (!) screen. Currently, almost nothing is known of it. There are some threads on it; for example, THIS, THIS and THIS.

It wasn’t showcased at all. As it was only very (!) briefly shown in the T-Mobile press conference, I don’t know any high-res, non-blurred close-ups of the device – or, for that matter, any video recording of the event.

E-Ten V900

I’ve already mentioned this high-spec’ed (Samsung S3C6400, 128M RAM, digital TV receiver) device.

Interestingly, their homepage doesn’t contain any information on the V900 (direct link to their Products page HERE; their MWC-related press release doesn’t contain anything either; it’s only the CeBIT one that mentions the device. Note that, here, they speak of a H2 2008 release date. In there, no specs are given; the flyer available at MWC, however, has some kind of a specs. My shot follows (as with genuine MWC flyer shots, to my knowledge, I’m the first to publish this in the WinMo world – as with the Samsung S3C6410 and the cracked Skype flyers):

As you can see, it’s indeed a very powerful device.

If you compare the technical data in the flyer to that of PDAdb, you’ll realize that the flyer only lists the S3C 6400 running at 533 MHz, while PDAdb.net states it’ll run at 666 MHz. Hope the “slow†533 MHz is just a misprint in the flyer (as is, for example, the correct spelling of SiRFstar III, which is written as Sirf Start III in here.)

BTW, here’s the full flyer, should be interested in the entire stuff:


According to the MoDaCo folks, the specs are in no way finalized; I, therefore, really hope they DO put the latest S3C6410 (instead of the already-outdated S3C6400) in the commercial version of the device. Yes, I know even the S3C6400 is great compared to the heavily outdated and, in general, crappy S3C 2442 (still) used in all their (even the latest!) devices, but still - the S3C6410 would result in additional speed increase, power consumption decrease, 3D hardware acceleration, additional multimedia hardware acceleration etc.

Some other V900 photos can be found HERE.

Other sources of info:
Eten Club
A thread with some pics

Unfortunately, the MoDaCo folks weren’t allowed to take photos of the device either, it being so early in the production phase. On the Microsoft booth, as can be seen in the following shot (the V900 at the right end; I’ve also included the three new Toshi models on the shot), it was also separated from the users’ hands – that is, it wasn’t possible to give it a more thorough ride:

Gigabyte

Of the new Gigabyte announcements (see for example THIS for more info on them), it’s definitely the MS808 that seems to be the most interesting and is definitely the most feature-packed.

Unfortunately, the demo device at MWC wasn’t in working order, which can also be seen in The Unwired’s “hands on†video. The official Gigabyte homepage doesn’t have any info either.

Hope I’ll able to report more on this handset in the near future – for example on how it actually works. It’s slated for release in Q3, which may mean we still need to wait some months before we can get some working (!), public prototypes.

HTC

There wasn’t any new and/or really interesting device at the HTC booth.

I’ve quickly played with the upgraded (better(?) keyboard, 16G flash instead of the 8G Microdrive etc) HTC Advantage / Athena x7500/ x7501 and wasn’t particularly pleased. They didn’t showcase any new and REALLY interesting device either: the Touch series (Touch, Dual, Cruise):

And the P3470 (yes, another TI OMAP 850-based device…), TyTN II, s730 (Smartphone) and the Shift:

The only model I found cool was the HTC Shift (specs HERE – as you can see, it could have a much higher-resolution screen than the current 800 X 480, taken the 7†size into account), but it has just a barebone Windows Mobile operating system only usable to establish connections for Vista running on the x86 CPU (at least this is what I’ve been told by the MS folks at the MS booth).


(the size of the Shift vs. the Universal)

I also took some pictures of the Fujitsu Lifebook U-series U1010 UMPC, which is, while much narrower (albeit a BIT longer and thicker) and lighter than the Shift (171mm (W) x 133mm (D) x 26.5-32.0mm (H), 0.63kg vs. 207/129/25 mm, 800 grams; figures of the U1010 and the Shift, respectively) , still sports a higher-resolution, rotateable (!) 1024 x 600 screen. (Note that the linked U1010 page is from Singapore; I couldn’t find any mention of the model or even the U-series on the U.S. pages of Fujitsu):



(size compared to the HTC Universal – again, the latter with an extended battery)

(the Shift and the Fujitsu U1010 next to each other)

Windows Mobile devices at the MS booth

Still speaking of the MS booth, let me present you a more thorough list of all the showcased Windows Mobile devices in there:











And a shot of an ongoing Live Search presentation:

Verdict

Unfortunately, the devices I like /wait for the most (S-E XPERIA X1, E-Ten V900, Gigabyte MS808) will only be released in the second half of the year and none of the current Windows Mobile devices are particularly appealing.

Of course, this, as was the case with i-mate’s devices (see my price-related remark in there), is hugely price-dependant. That is, I can put up with, say, an i-mate 9502 or a Toshi G910 if and only if it's sold at, say, $200...$300. However, I barely think I'd ditch my Universal then - the latter has still much better keyboard and much larger screen, which pretty much negates its being slightly outdated and heavy.

That is, as a high-end geek ONLY interested in 640*480 VGA (or Wide VGA – 800*480) devices, I’m pretty sure I’ll wait with retiring my at least the Windows Mobile models from my current HTC Universal + Nokia N95 + BlackBerry 8800 + HTC s310 setup and switch to the new one. For example, if the i-mate 9502 will be sold here in Europe (which is, currently, pretty much unlikely) and its price will be sufficiently low (say, 300 bucks at most), I may go for it. The same stands for the iPAQ 210, which is, for me, a little bit of a disappointment: I wouldn’t have thought it would be considerably worse than its 3.5-year-old predecessor in several respects. I don’t think I’d purchase it at its (not THAT high) price – the hx4700 just feels better in the hand and looks far more professional. The new Toshi G910 (G920) is just a joke with its clamshell-only, small screen estate design. As almost nothing is known of the T-Mo Compact IV, I can’t say anything for sure. As I have a post-paid T-Mo (BlackBerry) subscription, I may go for it without having to fear of being locked to them, so if and only if it has a decent spec and design (MUCH better than that of the Toshi G910/G920 or the i-mate 9502), I may go for it.

This, however, doesn’t mean YOU should be waiting any more. If you don’t necessarily want a VGA device (that is, a QVGA will suffice) and/or don’t have problems with the incompatibilities with a lot of games (not that you would want to play ANY action games on its touchpad) and other graphical apps, take a look at the Samsung SGH-i780. It looks really sexy and is very powerful – it’d be my personal pick if and only if it wasn’t “just†a 320*320 device. Some of HTC's later devices are also worth checking out (unless you're afraid of the graphics driver problem, which, at last, may be officially fixed - at least to a certain degree); also the iPAQ 110 (used together with an external phone if you need Internet access, that is).

What next?

Depending on my free time, I’ll try to publish a write-up on digital TV issues and how the Nokia N96, the various Gigabyte models and the E-Ten V900 (the most important digital TV receivers announced) are able to receive them. I’ll explain the differences between different digital TV standards; I also explain what you lose with, say, the lacking DVB-T compatibility (as opposed to DVB-H) of the N96 and so on.

Related Articles

Misc news: MWC, GREAT rebates, new devices, new games/emulators/CorePlayer version – some (additional) reports on, for example, the O2 XDA Flame

MWC: Chipset Vendors & New Chipsets - Part II – more info on the chipsets I’ve been referring to

MWC: i-mate’s new devices – my thorough report on i-mate’s new models

And, generally, all the other, MWC-related articles on my blog.

Syndicate content